Warrington Borough Council v TN (Care Proceedings: Comity) [2020] EWFC 79

In a case concerning care proceedings relating to an 8-year-old child (JN) born in the UK to Lithuanian parents, MacDonald J restated that participants, in such proceedings involving more than one jurisdiction, must “give appropriate weight to the principle of comity as it pertainsto judicial and social care arrangements” [37].

JN came to the attention of the local authority when it was informed that the mother was convicted of “people trafficking” and was subsequently at risk of a significant custodial sentence. In addition, there were welfare concerns due to the child’s exposure to domestic abuse and gaps in her education. After serving a two-year custodial sentence, the Home Office agreed not to deport the mother until the Family Court decided if it was in the interest of the child to accompany her.

The main issues in this instance related to a dispute between the parties about the extent to which the court needed confirmation of the safeguarding measures that would be taken by Lithuanian authorities. Such authorities repeatedly made it clear that it would set out what steps it deemed appropriate upon the child’s arrival in Lithuania, whereas the Children’s Guardian was for some time unable to agree to JN’s relocation without details of what support would be made available.

Macdonald J held that while the English court had “no jurisdiction to compel the Lithuanian State Child Rights Protection and Adoptions service to take a particular course of action” [14]. Given that the principle of comity does not derive solely from Council Regulation 2201/2003, but also in the common law (see Buck v Att-Gen [1965] Ch 745 at 770), it still applies [26]

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